PoetryWinter2019

“You Were Telling Me About Vampire Bats” and Other Poems – Grace Gardiner

YOU WERE TELLING ME ABOUT VAMPIRE BATS

in the black light of our bedroom—the true
communists who gift gullets of blood to
whosever muzzle tapers open like a cone.

My eyes set on your throat, the shadows
and folds that bulge around the split breath
of your voice. Rarely do I see it, sound

bobbing in consonant-vowel patterns
through each flap of mucosa-lined glottis,
the wet epithelial columns lifting

up like the slow wave of a wing. I trace
your plodded stops and gritty ms, the high
is and low os smoother, subtler than water

swallowed, as if you were made only for this
ebb. I heed hungrily what tones pitch off your lips.

 

THE SUN SET AT 4:45 LAST NIGHT. I GOT SCREEN FATIGUE.
after Donika Kelly

In this blearing blue-dark I am a body trying
to make sense of its devotions: to pump, to swill,

to excretion & aggregate, to the slough
& sweat of skin, the burp that heaves sudden

up my throat like wind stirring the last oak
leaf from its late autumn perch. In each

eye the night salts sleep the morning then
dissolves. On & on I repeat my breathing,

the slight curl & flick of my pebbled tongue
guiding saliva & crumbs from the fat

nook of my cheek. Were I not to bite, my nails
would talon into chalked ribbon, not to cut,

my hair would gnarl into nest. Alive
I am many an unbottleable motion, the suck

& spew of variegated cell mouths, that gristled  
chorus of ebb & flow, in & out, the round up

& down of sneeze, swallow, shiver, blink.
O, when I am open, I am filled—fluid.

O, when I am closed, I concentrate & wait to be.  

STET

Stet my parent’s green
            CR-V, your old high

                        school parking lot slated
            for demo next week,

the dumpsters behind
            which you first learned

                          the slick inside of another’s
            mouth, the gum-sludged glitter

of the rain & scattered end-
            -of-the-year trash’s mixed

                          dip-spit gutter-rivers
            between which I now sit

while you pace & shake.
            Stet your face, the halogen-

                        tinged I-hate-most-everything
            angst grinding down your cheek.

Stet my hand’s reach to pad
           a sweat-wet stroke along

                        your jaw, the rough blush
          that blotch-bleeds like a tree-

nut allergy under your chin
             down the wrinkle-ribbed curves

                          etched on your throat as you
            tense away. Stet my eyes,

their 3 a.m. compromise,
              the words I unturn from

                          my phlegm-clearing ahem:
           you can let me in. Stet

the brash rash of your laugh,
              its upwards slit, the bit

                           curl of my lip holding in
             breath, the shivers of mid-June

fog skittering on my teeth.
            Stet your low lean-back

                        against the bumper to join
          me, the heavy creature

of your skull rounding out
           my shoulder’s bony nest,

                        the plateau of your pulse
          slinking up through my neck,

the sink, the lift of your lungs
             extinguishing yes,

                   its terse mumbled
      apology. Stet this mess.

What the cicadaed night says
             we couldn’t ever change

                          even if we would.

SELF-PORTRAIT IN SHADOW FEAT. PARTNER, OCTOBER FLOWERS, MISSOURI SKY, BAG OF CHIPS

If you won’t listen to me listen
to the touched and touching earth

its pocks of crinkled Lay’s filigree
its sky the flatline between dry and wet
each bloomed scent unspooling to winter
snap

If you ever were to ask to marry me this
scattered likeness would serve as my yes
the lethed until of my signature


Author Bio: Grace Gardiner received her MFA in Writing from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a former poetry editor for The Greensboro Review and intern for Persea Books. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Mom Egg Review, SWWIM Every Day, and LETTERS. She’s currently pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri, Columbia, where she lives with her partner, the poet Eric Morris-Pusey, and one too many brown recluses.

The author: Mike Robbins